This photo was taken in Damascus in 1899. The dwarf is Samir. He is a Christian and cannot walk. The one who carries it on his back is Muhammad. He is a Muslim and he is blind.
Mohamed relies on Samir to tell him where to go, and Samir uses his friend’s back to navigate the city streets. They were both orphans and lived in the same room.
Samir was a hakawati, he had the gift of narration and told stories of a thousand and one nights to the customers of a cafe in Damascus, Mohamed sold bolbolas in front of the same cafe and liked to listen to his friend’s stories.
One day, when he retired to his room, Muhammad found his companion dead. He wept and mourned his friend for seven days straight. When asked how they got along so well, being of different religions, he said only this:
“Here we were the same”, pointing with his hand to his heart.
According to the story, when Sameer died, Mohammed stayed in his room crying for a week. He had lost his other half. He died from sadness shortly afterward.